Two podcasts back-to-back, Tyler Cowan interviewing Joseph Henrich, which included a discussion of polygamy worldwide. (It came up in the Q&A as well, from a woman who writes about "sex and politics" and was fishing for an endorsement of polyandry from Henrich.) 85% of the world's cultures practice at least some polygamy. Note that most of those cultures are small, so that this doesn't mean that 85% of the world's population practices polygamy. Nor does everyone in those cultures practice it, as by definition it means some men are excluded. Next podcast was suddenly about Tinder and the statistic that 6% of the men dominate the dating, over half essentially using it as an efficient shopping tool for women who will sleep with them. I thought: Those are the same subject.
So I wonder...Is Tinder a reassertion of the prehistorically and even historically much more common norm of polygamy? Is it just a return to normal, but we don't like it? By the way, I hate those guys on some visceral creepiness level. I hope I would have the strength of character to feel the same if I were one. Monogamy greatly increased wider societal cooperation and reduced violence, which allowed a wider network of shared ideas. Too many unmated males wandering around a society creates a situation in which their only mating strategies are high risk and violent. Low trust, low display of success because it provokes envy. But wider sharing of ideas creates a virtuous cycle allowing a group to outcompete other groups. Voila! Western Civ. (The influence of feudalism and forbidding cousin marriage are related phenomenon.)
Yet how much changes when mating is now less likely to produce genetically coded partial replicas - we call them "children" - because of birth control and abortion? The risks and rewards are now different for polyamory. And does it matter that marriage is no longer an automatic? The term polygamy has a different meaning now, and how much of what we see about polygamous societies in Papua, New Guinea applies to downtown Baltimore?
We now have enough data that the sociology and even anthropology of Tinder are researchable. Do we want to know?